Clallam Transit operations supervisor Rickie Stimbert attaches balloons to the front of the first bus to make scheduled service from The Gateway transit center to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam Transit operations supervisor Rickie Stimbert attaches balloons to the front of the first bus to make scheduled service from The Gateway transit center to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Ride the bus to the Ridge

Clallam Transit now providing seasonal service

PORT ANGELES — Access to one of the North Olympic Peninsula’s most popular attractions became much easier on Wednesday when Clallam Transit inaugurated scheduled seasonal bus service from downtown Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge.

The three-times-daily service takes passengers on a non-stop ride to the ridge’s visitor center nearly a mile above sea level.

Hurricane Ridge buses will be fare free through the month of June. For the remainder of the summer season, fares will be $1 for adults and 50 cents for Regional Reduced Fare Permit holders.

Youths younger than 18 will continue to ride free. However, those ages 16 through 18 must present photo identification, such as a school or state ID, to verify age.

Clallam Transit general manager Kevin Gallacci was on hand at The Gateway transit center at the corner of Lincoln and Front streets for the first departure Wednesday morning. He said there was great public interest in a bus to the Ridge.

“We had a lot of input from a survey we did here in 2020 with our public and our customers,” he said. “A lot of the comments we had were about service to Hurricane Ridge.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve provided service to the Ridge. We went up there years ago with the ski bus,” he added. “But this is the first time we’ve put routed scheduled service in place.”

Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias, who is also chairman of the Clallam Transit Board of Commissioners, boards the first bus from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias, who is also chairman of the Clallam Transit Board of Commissioners, boards the first bus from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Buses are scheduled to make three runs daily, including weekends and holidays, through Sept. 30. Departures from The Gateway are at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. for the 45-minute ride to the top.

Return trips from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center are slated for 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

On busy days, the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge can fill up, sometimes requiring rangers at the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station to hold traffic until enough cars come down to free up space.

Gallacci said bus service would help alleviate the parking jam.

“Obviously it’s a good thing for the park and for the environment,” he said. “It relives some congestion, and it’s supported by many in the community.”

Clallam Transit driver Elliot Boughen-Caldwell looks over a card identifying acceptable admissions to Olympic National Park before setting off on the first scheduled bus to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam Transit driver Elliot Boughen-Caldwell looks over a card identifying acceptable admissions to Olympic National Park before setting off on the first scheduled bus to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

At boarding, passengers must show proof of paid admission to Olympic National Park. This is separate from the bus fare.

America the Beautiful or ONP annual pass holders are allowed to have up to three other people 16 or older accompany them on the bus.

For all others, individual park admittance is $15, which must be purchased in advance, either directly from the park or online. Children 15 or younger are exempt from the admission fee.

Gallacci said Clallam Transit was prepared to run multiple buses on scheduled runs if demand indicated the necessity. He said drivers would keep tally of uphill riders verses downhill riders to make sure everyone could make it back to town at the end of the day.

Adverse weather also could affect operations, he said.

Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias, who also chairs the transit board of directors, went on Wednesday’s inaugural run to the Ridge. Before boarding, he said the service would be a tremendous asset to the region.

“It’s tremendously exciting,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work putting it together, and it’s responsive to one of the community’s biggest requests. It’s really exciting for Clallam Transit and for our community.”

________

Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at kthorpe@peninsuladailynews.com.

Clallam Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci, with scissors, cuts a ribbon to inaugurate scheduled bus service from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci, with scissors, cuts a ribbon to inaugurate scheduled bus service from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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